The is kind and merciful!

 

Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15   

I Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12

Luke 13:1-9

I once again want to welcome all of you today, especially any sinners who may be joining. You are in the right place and in the right pew. Fortunately, all of us are sinners and in need of God’s mercy; myself included. What if sin was a sticker, how many stickers would we be wearing today? Put a few stickers on. 

What if God’s mercy was a sticker, how many stickers would we be wearing? Put a gold star on my forehead. All of us are in need of God’s mercy. Our responsorial psalm gives us what we need to know today as we sang, “The Lord is kind and merciful.”

In our first reading from Exodus, God says to Moses in a burning bush, “I am the God of your fathers. I have witnessed their affliction; I have heard their cries, and I know of their suffering.” God wants to free his people from slavery, and show them his mercy, and he asks Moses to be his instrument of mercy. What are the sins that we need to be delivered from today? How do we need to know the Lord is kind and merciful?

St. Paul founded this church in Corinth and they are all people of Greek heritage. These people have no Jewish blood in them yet he addresses them as full brothers and sisters, as God’s Chosen People. Paul is warning them to be mindful of their sinfulness and their need for God’s mercy. He warns them not to be like their brothers and sisters who wandered in the desert for forty years, not mindful of God’s mercy. How are we wandering in our sinfulness and in need of knowing the Lord is kind and merciful?

Our Gospel begins with people telling Jesus that Pilate had some people killed. The reason they give for their deaths is even though we do not know what they did wrong God knows what they did wrong and they deserved death. Jesus would have nothing to do with this understanding and comes back with his own story. Do you think when the tower of Siloam fell, and the 18 people who were standing around it got killed? Do you think they died because of their great sinfulness?

Then he continues with a short parable about a fig tree that after three years was not producing any fruit, so the owner wanted it cut down. The gardener protested to give the tree another chance. He will give it everything it needs to bear from and then if it still doesn’t produce any fruit then he will cut it down.

My friends in Christ, how silly am I to be wearing this star on my forehead for this entire homily! But how silly are we if we do not allow ourselves to wear the mercy of God. There is nothing that God cannot forgive, he is always waiting for us to spring into action and give us his mercy and forgiveness. Lent is the time to know the Lord is kind and merciful. May we come to experience God’s mercy in this community where God has promised to be.   

 

How are we jealous of others?

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Genesis 37: 3-4, 12-13, 17-28

Matthew 21:33-34, 45-46

Have you heard of the TV show “America Got Talent?” It is a show where people perform their talent and then are judge on that talent. Today we are going to play, “St. Patrick’s Got Talent!” Our contestants today will be myself and our seminarian, Mr. Justin Wiltse. I go to the piano, and play chop sticks. So, what do you think? Do I have enough talent to move onto the next round? Get responds from kids.

Mr. Wiltse, it is your turn, see if you can play better than that? Justin goes to the piano and plays a song! What did you think of Mr. Wiltse’s talent? Get responds from kids.

I am jealous that you can play the piano better than me! Now go back to your seat!” Our readings today bring us face to face with the evil sin of jealousy?

Jealous creeps into all of our lives at some time, and we need to do something about it when it comes.  Mr. Wiltse, has a wonderful gift of playing the piano and the organ, and I really do not know how to play either one. Instead of being jealous, I should be appreciative and encourage him in his gift of playing the piano and the organ.

In our first reading, the brothers of Joseph are jealous of him because their father loves him so much. They are willing so jealous they conspire to get rid of him by first leaving him for dead, and then they sell him to a band of people. In our gospel, the tenant farmers are so jealous of the land owner, they kill the owner’s son.  

Our Lent is our time to be on retreat, where we do our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. May this Eucharist give us the grace, to rid ourselves of any kind of jealous.

 

Blessings and Curses

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Luke 16:19-31

Is last night’s snow storm a blessing or a curse? It is most certainly a curse to drive in, but the kids are seeing it as a blessing with no school today. Our spiritual lives are made up of blessing and curses.

The prophet Jeremiah lays it our very plainly for us, “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who sought strength in flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” However, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. They are like a tree planted beside a stream; as it, roots stretch out to the water.” 

In our Gospel, the rich man, who goes un-named, believes his life is blessed because of his wealth here on earth. He could not see beyond his wealth and possessions, and he thought he had everything he needed. He was so stuck on himself; he could not see the poor at his own doorstep. When he dies, he is sent to the netherworld where he realizes that he is cursed because of how he lived here on earth.

The poor man Lazarus, whose name means, “God will provide” did not lose hope that God will provide for him even though here on earth; he lived with great misfortune and suffering. He may have felt cursed in this life but in eternal life, he was blessed.

My friends in Christ, blessings come when we place our trust in God and live in hope. Curses come when we place our trust in ourselves. There is no middle ground, we are on one side or the other. May this Eucharist, we celebrate help us to put our trust in the Lord, and see our many blessings!

 

How are we great?

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Jeremiah 18:18-20

Matthew 20:17-28

Are we ok, good, or great? Our readings challenge us to be great today?

In our Gospel, the mother of James and John approach Jesus and asks ‘that her sons have the places of greatness when he comes into his kingdom.’ There is nothing wrong with the question, Jesus likes greatness, but they fail to understand what Jesus means by greatness and only seek the glory that comes with greatness.

As Jesus begins to explain what he means by greatness he does not say, “Be humble, and not great. Be loving, and not great.”

Jesus understanding of greatness is to be a humble, forgiving, loving and a servant to all. To do all these things to the best of our ability. We are all called to greatness by our baptism. We were anointed as priest, prophet and king, these are all servant positions of greatness.

We become great when we are weak, when we know we have to do something, but we are scared and not sure what to do. It is then we reach for the life line of Jesus Christ and with trust and hope in him, and we move and have our very being. If we aspire to greatness, we need to set aside who we are and set our sights on Jesus Christ. Because when we get to heaven Jesus isn’t going to ask us “Have we been good?” We ask dogs and cats to be good! He is going to ask us, “Have we been great?”

If we want to be great, just do our Lenten practices, of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Be great in living these practices.

 

 

Why have we come?

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Isaiah 1:10, 16-20

Matthew 23:1-12

 

Hopefully, we have come here today to be honest with ourselves to try and grow in holiness and to eliminate the hypocrisy in our lives. If we do not think, we have to change, then let us asks ourselves: Have we been willing to forgive someone? Do we gossip? Do we think ill of others? If yes, to any of these things, then we have more work to do! If we are honest, then our readings can help us to grow.

In our first reading, Isaiah says, “Wash yourselves clean! Cease doing evil; and learn to do good. Let us set things right. If we refuse to change, then the sword will consume us.” What needs to be set right, in our lives?

I love our Responsorial Psalm that we just prayed it speaks the truth, “To the upright, I will show the saving power of God.” God is trying to give us the signs on how to be holy!

The Pharisees, in the time of Jesus held both civil and political power and today in our gospel Jesus is very critical of them. Jesus knows because of their power that the people are looking to them on how to live a holy life. Jesus says, “Observe what they tell you, but do not follow what they do.” He says, this because the Pharisees, did not live up to their own words.

The hardest task is to listen to these readings and think of everyone that they pertain to and not to think they pertain to ourselves.

Not sure what to do? Look to Christ, be humble, live in gratitude, and let the grace of this Eucharist sink deep within us.

 

I need clarity in knowing what to do!

 

Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Luke 9:28-36

When I am stressed about something or praying about a homily because I know it is not where I want it to be many times when I go to bed my last words are, “Lord, it is all yours. Let me sleep in peace!” As I begin to wake up, like a vision, the words come and there is clarity. I have more and more become attuned to these times in my spiritual life. Our readings are all about seeking clarity in our spiritual lives.

In our first reading, Abram is seeking clarity in his life as God takes him outside and shows him all the stars in the sky and tells him his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abram has no children at this point and asks God for some assurances that his promise will come true. God instructs him to gather some animals to make a covenant together. The covenant between two parties was done by splitting the animals in half and the two parties would walk together between the split animals as a sign that if one breaks the covenant this is what would happen to the person that broke the covenant. What happens in this covenant with Abram, is only God moves in-between the two halves of the animals. God is not asking Abram to promise anything, only to trust in him. How do we trust in God?

In our second reading from St. Paul, he says, “You want clarity in your life, to know the will of God? Do what I do, imitate me!” Paul could say this with great confidence because all he did was follow Christ. Could we say the very same thing to our family and friends?

In verses 18-19 of the same chapter of our Gospel today, Jesus asks all the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” There are all kinds of answers, they are looking for clarity of who he is. Luke has this story happening at night as Jesus takes Peter, John, and James up a mountain and when they arrive Jesus goes off to pray and the disciples fall asleep. They are awakened, to see the face of Jesus changed and his clothes become dazzling white. Notice all this happens as they are awaking? As Moses and Elijah appear, Peter wants to build three booths to stay for a while, but there is never staying at one place in faith.  I love the ending to the story, Luke writes, “They fell silent, and left.” Peter, John, and James were blessed to see the glory of God with their own eyes, something they were asking for so they could have clarity, and they leave in complete silence. How often do we pray for something, and it happens then we are not sure what to do with it?

My friends in Christ, silence is ok, as long as we have clarity of what we are called to do, and we do it! Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are given to us to help us have clarity in knowing and living the will of God. The Eucharist we share always gives us the confidence we need. May we have great clarity this week in doing the will of God!

Help me in my anger

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Ezekiel 18:21-28

Matthew 5:20-26

By a show of hands; who has ever gotten angry? What makes us angry? Get answers from students!

I use to have a terrible temper and I would get very angry. Tell the story of hitting my older brother, and he punched me back and it hurt. I yelled for mom, and she said, “You deserved it!” After that I thought, “This being angry is not working out so much.”

Anger is one of the many emotions that we have as humans, it is neutral. Emotions are given to us to make a choice, to do something. When we become angry, we make a choice can I bring peace or destruction? When Jesus was hung upon the cross, after being spat on, hit, beaten, nailed upon the cross and lifted up, he made a choice in his anger to say, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

In our Gospel, Jesus says, “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother or sister will be liable to judgment.” We might say, “Jesus you need to, lighten up, what you are saying is really hard.” But guess, what? I do not think the message of Jesus should be watered down. Someone today is going to become angry, out on the playground, driving our cars, or talking to someone. How are we going to move into action?

We are the ones who have been given every opportunity to know Jesus Christ. We cannot come into church and look all holy and then go out and slug someone! Jesus is demanding a lot, and we need to stand ready to do what he asks of us.

The Eucharist is offered to us to be more like Christ, may we know the grace from this sacrament.